Sadie is amazing. Her body is constantly wracked in arthritic pain yet her countenance reveals mostly joy. She has more broken bones than most football players. Her abusive husband died leaving her penniless and with no insurance to handle her ever-mounting medical bills. Still, she does not complain. Her ’96 faded blue Ford Taurus won’t start so she must rely on the help of others to get around until she can find the money to pay a mechanic to fix it. Her son is addicted to meth and her daughter is in her fourth relationship with a man who is a total controller. If anyone was a candidate for bitterness it would be Sadie. Yet she is serene and confident in her faith. She consistently encourages others—an empathy distributing angel in a world of mean, selfish people. What is her secret?
The Ascent Church in Monument, Colorado is in the process of selecting new elders. Two of us, who are currently on the elder board, recently met with one of two prospective elders to gauge whether he would be a good addition to our team. The process will continue with several more meetings with our pastors and elders and, then if nominated, the congregation will vote to bring them on as elders. It is a solid method and it works well for our church.
1 Timothy 5:22—Don’t be too quick to appoint anyone as an elder, and don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
Luke 13:8,9—He answered him, “Sir, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you shall cut it down.”
Jesus shared the parable of the barren fig tree to His listeners about a man who, frustrated with the fact that his fig three after three years was still not producing figs, told his vinedresser to cut it down. The vinedresser was more patient and felt like corrective steps were necessary before just killing the tree.
Allie jogged from her house to school when a neighborhood dog broke loose from his owner and chased her. The mean canine bit her several times before his master was able to regain control. “How unfair and unlucky!” her angry Aunt Zelda said to her mother Susan as they sat in the hospital waiting room while the doctor treated her. “We don’t know that,” Susan responded.
My team briefed me at 3:30 p.m. The key slide in their operational brief that I would have to in turn brief my boss at 5:00 p.m. was awful. The words that were to describe our progress were not clear and there were too many confusing acronyms. And what was supposed to be a clear map for the location of the disaster in our exercise, with scope of destruction from a notional bomb, was just a big brown blob. Each subordinate unit that briefed me had much better graphics depicting roads, cities and key information. But I couldn’t use their work because by the time all the units finished speaking there wasn’t enough time for the staff to swap content. Inside I was fuming. This was our first chance to make a strong impression on our higher headquarters and our one slide was unprofessional.
Animus looked down on the three squirrels and chortled. Next to scolding the dog the crow's favorite activity was teasing the nut-hoarders. "Hey Might--you think you are so strong and brave. I bet you can't drop a plum on Saber's head." Might bristled at the dare. As the largest and most powerful in his family, he took pride in his feats of strength. Now with September halfway gone, the purple fruit was fat and juicy and he was in truth sitting next to one of the largest plums on the whole tree. Directly below him with his permanent hunter stare, sat Saber, a large sheltie who absolutely loved chasing squirrels.
Here’s a fantastic way to test your life pace. How long can you wait without uttering derogatory words or pressing your hands against the wheel, behind a car that is not moving when the traffic light turns green? Today on my way to a function, the red light changed but the car to my left did not move. In less than four seconds horns were blowing. At the next light I did not move fast enough and again there was honking. I guess the drivers in Houston have even less patience than the drivers in Portland. So what’s the big hurry?
Solomon writes of the bride who is awakened to the sound of her beloved knocking at her door. Unfortunately she takes too long to answer . . .
How often do you seek answers from the Bible so as to know what to do? For years Kathleen and I have not been able to sell our home and because of this our equity is tied up. Not having the ability to free up this money is frustrating. I wonder how many hours I have spent trying to identify a solution to our situation. Recently, I read in Psalm 16:5, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot” (ESV). What a great reminder that He is in control of my lot (in context lot refers to the future but here it makes a nice property statement)! He will resolve our housing situation when the time is right. Occasionally finding answers is not the issue. What I need is to be at peace with the Answer.
When cadets return to West Point in January, they enter what is called thegloom period. The buildings are gray, the skies are dreary and a feeling of “I wish I could just take a long, extended nap” settles upon the Corps. I lived through four years of that gloom period. Imagine my surprise when I moved to San Diego and discovered that June was called the same thing! The ever-present sun gave way to incessant fog and a chilly air. What were we thinking when we moved to western Oregon, a place famous for what can often be eight months of drizzle and fog?
Recently, the Vietnam Traveling Wall (the 3/4ths replication of the amazing black wall in Washington D.C.), traveled to Portland, Oregon. Etched in somber stone is the name of every veteran killed in Indochina. During the opening ceremony I represented the 104th Division. Afterwards I was invited to a dinner with the special people from the cemetery that planned the event.
Raul lives in Chinandega, Nicaragua and serves with our First Cause team by translating Reverations into Spanish. Recently Raul* lost his job yet needed funds to help pay his school tuition and for a training conference with Timothy Academy in Honduras. I wired Raul money based on the bank instructions he gave me. But when he went to the bank they said no funds had arrived. For three weeks this went on—each time Raul went to the bank they reported no money. Yet on my end I had a receipt showing $146 was wired. Raul believed me and I believed Dolex Dollar Express and we both trusted God but Raul had no funds.
The top supervisor position in a Brigade I will be commanding opens at the end of the month. A team of four of us conducted interviews with three job applicants. One of the individuals on the hiring team, Jack,* clearly favored one of the applicants and pressured the rest of us to hire her. His choice did the best job fielding questions and technically seemed the most competent for the job. By the end of the interviews the team leaned towards hiring her. Inwardly I did not feel comfortable selecting her. It felt like we were rushing to make a hire—squeezed by time and loyalty to select a woman who had served in our organization a long time. I silently asked God for His help that we would do the right thing. Instead of immediately offering her the position I gained approval from the other three leaders to conduct a more thorough background check.
Joseph is one of my favorite Biblical characters. He is such a great example of what it means to trust God though times and circumstances may be trying. I believe there are three key lessons we can about God from Joseph that will help us in our daily living.
She is beautiful. Her serene, unblemished face is a remarkable sight. Her tiny feet wiggle to the tickling touch of her mother’s loving fingers. Her black hair is thick and astonishingly full for a newborn. But inside this lovely baby rages some unknown storm that throws her into seizures and more than once has arrested her ability to breathe. The doctors have no answers. Meanwhile, two hearts burst in agony. Henry and Melody helplessly watch their first child not knowing . . .
The Kahiltna glacier feeds the broad Kahiltna River that in turn is joined by the clear running water of Peter’s Creek. Where the fast-moving milky river and the rippling creek meet is a place where thousands of Silver Salmon leave their river highway from the Pacific Ocean to return home and spawn. On the northwest side of the watery marriage high above in a birch tree is an eagle’ nest. Eaglet’s cries pierce the valley as they screech for food.
He rolled up to the sidelines in a wheelchair and I couldn’t help but wonder what thoughts crisscrossed his mind. Soccer is not a game for the lame. Yet he came out to watch perhaps wistfully at what he could no longer do, or at peace—able still to enjoy an event in which his friends were engaged. He reminded me of Bryan, my 12-year-old hero.
“I don’t get it,” she says. Her eyes finish a sentence bereft of words. She cannot understand why her morale seems as withered as the orchid that drops its petals before a gray sky. She thinks the mark of spiritual authenticity is the ability to call on God and experience His resolving touch to her whatever problem. But when He does not come or meet her expectations her forbearance slips another notch. It’s as if He does not care.
If prayer seems as useful as removing weeds by hand, patience seems as valid as turtles trying to fly. The driver to our right cuts us off and we fume. The boss treats us unjustly and we cry to God “FOUL!” We wait for recognition that never comes. We sing our hearts out before a microphone turned off. What good is it to serve when things do not turn out right? So we bow to the beat of the temper tantrum.
The subway trains at SEATAC Airport run every two minutes connecting terminal to terminal. They are efficient, effective and psychologically comforting to those who dread the thought of missing their flight. After all, we live in a culture that does not like having to wait.
Twice in my life I have experienced occasions where I had no clue what God’s purpose for my life entailed. The first time this occurred, I had graduated from seminary firmly believing that God was calling me to the mission field. He did not. He blocked the door and called me into launching a church in another state and pastoring it—something for which I had no experience. I spent a restless year before the Lord made His purpose clear that I was to pastor.
Numbers 14:1-4--Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and little children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.